With their faces gently pressed together, the interaction between the Virgin and Christ Child evokes a tender intimacy. This compositional motif appears in numerous works by Sano di Pietro and his workshop (for example, in another painting in the Lehman Collection, 1975.1.51). Sano was a popular and highly prolific Sienese painter and illuminator, whose workshop produced numerous devotional images of the Madonna and Child, frequently shown in bust-length. The close stylistic affinities between works attributed to Sano and the enigmatic Sienese artist known as the Osservanza Master may indicate that they represent a single artistic identity. It is also possible that the paintings attributed to the Osservanza Master are the product of a collaborative workshop to which these artists belonged. It has been suggested that the present panel may have been painted by one of Sano’s pupil’s, the Sienese artist Francesco di Giorgio, following the compositional model of his master.
Inscription: Inscribed: (on Madonna's halo) AVE.MARIA.GRACIA.PLENA.DO; (on Christ Child's halo) EGO.SVM.LVX.MV[NDI]
M. J. Homberg, Paris (sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 11, 1923, no. 34); M. Knoedler & Co., New York; Henry Ickelheimer, December 1923; Pauline Ickelheimer. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1946.
The Lehman Collection. Exh. cat., Cincinnati, 1959, p. 16, no. 41.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by artists born in or before 1865: A summary catalogue. Vol. 1, New York, 1980, p. 166.
John Pope-Hennessy assisted by Laurence B. Kanter inThe Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 1, Italian Paintings. New York, 1987, pp. 158-159, no. 67.
Keith Christiansen. "Notes on 'Painting in Renaissance Siena'." Burlington Magazine, 132 (March 1990), p. 212, no. 60.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 59.
Gaudenz Freuler. "Sano di Pietro, la sua fortuna critica e il "problema" del Maestro dell’Osservanza." Sano di Pietro: qualità, devozione e pratica nella pittura senese del Quattrocento. Milan, 2012, p. 38 n. 16.